Advice on scoring voices / choir for Musical

Answer came there none! So I’ll score as I see fit.

Please feel free to leave the original post as it was, with a follow-up comment if desired, rather than overwriting it - it might yet prompt engagement or help others in the future. That might not be possible now, but in the future I would recommend leaving posts - because of the forum search, sometimes even old threads end up helping users now.

I, for one, was planning on replying but have had a busy weekend!

Here are my thoughts as I remember them:

Use of staves really depends on what you need to see in the finished product. Assuming the vocal staves will only ever appear in a full and/or vocal score, there’s no harm in using divisi staves for the chorus. For that matter, I advocate using a single chorus “instrument” that expands and contracts via divisi wherever necessary. As Dorico’s not capable of adding/removing divisi staves mid-system (not that this is usual within the genre) occasional use of Shift-X text may be required. (Or build your own paragraph style that mimics divisi labels, save as default and assign a key command directly to it).

Fundamentally it all requires a little bit of planning. If you’re still in the writing phase then it may make sense to start off with each voice on a single staff, or at least to start off with more staves/instruments/players than you actually need, then cut them down when you’re at the “engraving” phase.

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Thanks @pianoleo

I do get a bit impatient when trying to meet deadlines…!
As to divisi - here again I run into the limitations of Elements - in fact I’ve XML’d it out to Musescore 3, so that I can have enough separate staves for each soloist, and I’ve created two Ensemble staves, each with 2 voices.

I think I expected to hear that there was a “right” way to do it (afraid of upsetting the Engraving Gods!). It’s for a printed full production score, for sending to producers and for anyone putting the musical on, so I’m just going to make it as clear as possible.

I want the characters to have their own named stave, even if they only have a few lines. I don’t want to use additional text over the staves - with the lack of engraving adjustment in Elements this can get very untidy very quickly. Witness the rehearsal marks always centered, which doesn’t work well (it confused my cellist!) when used with a suffix. Unfortunately this is beyond Elements limit of 12 players, so the idea of writing with more staves than I need can’t be done.

Ah - clarity when you reference using Elements. - that must have gotten lost with the first post being truncated… When you mention full production musicals, producers and impatience - I can’t imagine you would regret an upgrade to the full Dorico. (and no I don’t work for Steinberg. :slight_smile: ).

Condensing is one of your very best friends to write various parts as separate but then combined in the full score, and I would think cues would be vital for your use. With the extra staves available, I tend to make heavy use of -“Hide empty staves” so there wouldn’t be any clutter if "Second soloist/bystander " or whatever doesn’t appear but in a place or two.

I’m sure you would find engraving uses, but I would caution that Dorico has a different paradigm to use AI/automation rather than manual adjustment whenever possible. What I’m saying is that its extremely common for someone new to Dorico to try to do manually in engrave mode what is better done by tweaking the auto rules you desire in preferences and setup. Less time and labor that you appreciate especially when you have more works or pieces of a work to finish.

I can’t comment with any authority on proper choral writing. Scoring as you see fit does sound about right, if you mean that you are concentrating on the best utility and clarity for the production, uses in rehearsal, etc.

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Yes, Elements to Pro upgrade might be the solution. But sadly that’s not going to happen any time soon. This is where the huge disparity between entry level and “pro” (whatever that means) level pricing becomes a stumbling block that sends me elsewhere to get the job done. My music isn’t complex, but demands more than 12 players, and the ability to lay it out professionally. Now that the writing of this particular project is complete, and we’ve done the first shows, the need to create a presentable full score over-rides the enthusiasm I had for Dorico, as I can’t get it done in Elements. I’ll not attempt to score in Elements the second musical I’m half way through composing as I now know the limitations I’ll run into.

I guess I’ll be keeping an eye on development and see what works for me - if finances allow it I might upgrade - but then if Musescore meets my needs, maybe there’d be no point. Whether the aesthetics (and “professional look”??) of my finished score in Dorico would be significantly different / better than in Musescore I won’t know, but I’m simply unable to pay £450 just to to find out.

MuseScore is a fine product. But I think your conundrum is somehow to reconcile your two practical requirements (Professional and Many Instruments) with your price point (<£450).

Actually you can test that very easily. Just don’t try experimenting with your >12 player score! Try something simpler - perhaps a Bach Cantata? (there are many midi files around to import to get you started) and see which software find you find gives your “professional” result.

I get what you are saying. Breaking something into a few payments with Afterpay has been a useful tool for me at times when I needed to balance both the budget and immediate professional needs, But for sure we all have hard limits.

In my experience the “Pro Split” happened when I realized that I needed to bring my very best to the table just to have that small shot of being successful. Not that I had (or have) made it. But that “pretty good” was actually the least realistic of my choices.

There’s no doubt that some tools won’t make a critical difference. But its also true that I have nearly cried after using a tool and realizing just how needlessly handicapped I had been before.

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It’s interesting but after spending quite a few days with Musescore I’m noticing that the default layout before making any adjustments is really not doing it for me. And it would appear that music XMLs brought in from Dorico translate into better looking scores than those created natively in MS…I can get the scores looking good, but still not convinced.

Somehow it just doesn’t look as polished…going to have to re-think - and try workarounds. One thing I can do for sure is use a separate Dorico project for each song, rather than flows within a project. That at least gives me 12 players per song. Which with multi-voicing here and there I might get away with.

And hope that when Steinberg do a sale I have money in the bank…

Thanks for all the input on this.

As I said before, you pay’s your money…etc. That said, did you try MS with the same font and style settings as the Dorico, ie Bravura music font and Bravura/Academico text styles, instead of the MS default Edwin fonts?

The defaults regarding spacing and casting off in Musescore are simply not as good as in Dorico. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s subtle.

Of course one can achieve good results in Musescore. But it takes much more time, and more effort.